The Organization (1971)

GP | 105 or 107-108 mins | Drama | October 1971

Director:

Don Medford

Writer:

James R. Webb

Producer:

Walter Mirisch

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Editor:

Ferris Webster

Production Designer:

George B. Chan

Production Company:

Mirisch Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The opening credits include the statement "Based on the character created by John Ball." The closing credits begin with an acknowledgment of the San Francisco police. The opening credits are preceeded by an approximately eleven-minute sequence, almost without dialogue, during which the robbers infiltrate the factory and steal the heroin.
       Sidney Poitier had previously appeared as "Virgil Tibbs" in The Heat of the Night (1967, see above) and They Call Me Mister Tibbs (1970, see below). Barbara McNair and Wanda and George Spell, who respectively played Tibbs's wife and children in The Organization , played the same roles in They Call Me Mister Tibbs . Although producer Walter Mirisch asserted in a Jun 1971 LAT interview that he planned to shoot a fourth installment in the series, Poitier stated in the same article that he had little interest in revisiting the character again. In his autobiography, Poitier noted that while shooting The Organization , he was preoccupied with editing chores on his directorial debut, Buck and the Preacher (1972).
       As noted onscreen, The Organization was shot on location in San Francisco, and press notes include the nearby location of Sausalito. Some scenes were shot in the then-unfinished Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. Maxwell Gail, Jr., more commonly known as Max Gail, made his feature film debut in The Organization . A modern source adds Hal Needham as a stuntperson. While reviews were generally favorable, some critics cited The French Connection (1971, see above) as a grittier version of a similar story. ... More Less

The opening credits include the statement "Based on the character created by John Ball." The closing credits begin with an acknowledgment of the San Francisco police. The opening credits are preceeded by an approximately eleven-minute sequence, almost without dialogue, during which the robbers infiltrate the factory and steal the heroin.
       Sidney Poitier had previously appeared as "Virgil Tibbs" in The Heat of the Night (1967, see above) and They Call Me Mister Tibbs (1970, see below). Barbara McNair and Wanda and George Spell, who respectively played Tibbs's wife and children in The Organization , played the same roles in They Call Me Mister Tibbs . Although producer Walter Mirisch asserted in a Jun 1971 LAT interview that he planned to shoot a fourth installment in the series, Poitier stated in the same article that he had little interest in revisiting the character again. In his autobiography, Poitier noted that while shooting The Organization , he was preoccupied with editing chores on his directorial debut, Buck and the Preacher (1972).
       As noted onscreen, The Organization was shot on location in San Francisco, and press notes include the nearby location of Sausalito. Some scenes were shot in the then-unfinished Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. Maxwell Gail, Jr., more commonly known as Max Gail, made his feature film debut in The Organization . A modern source adds Hal Needham as a stuntperson. While reviews were generally favorable, some critics cited The French Connection (1971, see above) as a grittier version of a similar story.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 636-38.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1971
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1971
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1971
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1971.
---
New York
25 Oct 1971.
---
New York Times
21 Oct 1971
p. 56.
Variety
20 Oct 1971
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walter Mirisch Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Leadman
COSTUMES
Men's cost
Ladies' cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Locations by
Loc mgr
Loc auditor
Unit pub
Prod secy
Prod trainee
Transportation capt
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the character created by John Dudley Ball.
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
October 1971
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York opening: 20 October 1971
Production Date:
3 May--23 June 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Mirisch Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 October 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40484
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
105 or 107-108
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the middle of the night in San Francisco, a group of six people wearing plastic masks pose as a maintenance crew in order to infiltrate the Century Furniture Factory. With silent efficiency, they kidnap factory manager John Bishop, knock out guard George Morgan, and force Bishop to open the office vault, wherein lies their target: $4 million worth of heroin. Upon leaving, they blow up the building gate. Soon, detective Lt. Virgil Tibbs and his partner, Lt. Jack Pecora, are called in to investigate and find Bishop dead at his desk. Tibbs begins by questioning Morgan, who was knocked out, about why the robbers would have blown up the gate when they could have made their escape without opening the gate. Assistant manager William Martin is also questioned, but has no idea why anyone would have killed Bishop, who has no obvious enemies. Upon returning to their office, the police learn that Bishop was shot with two guns, execution-style; that the robbers entered from outside a window five stories high; and that they had only four minutes after tripping the alarms to exit the building. Meanwhile, corporate executives Bob Alford and Zach Mills, the leaders of the drug syndicate that supplied Bishop with the heroin, speak to their colleagues in Istanbul and Paris. Using code, they inform them that the heroin has been stolen and Bishop killed. At home that night, Tibbs is bantering with his wife Valerie and children Andy and Ginny when he receives an anonymous phone call asking him to walk alone along a city street at a certain hour. Instructing Pecora to come after him in thirty minutes, Tibbs does as he is told ... +


In the middle of the night in San Francisco, a group of six people wearing plastic masks pose as a maintenance crew in order to infiltrate the Century Furniture Factory. With silent efficiency, they kidnap factory manager John Bishop, knock out guard George Morgan, and force Bishop to open the office vault, wherein lies their target: $4 million worth of heroin. Upon leaving, they blow up the building gate. Soon, detective Lt. Virgil Tibbs and his partner, Lt. Jack Pecora, are called in to investigate and find Bishop dead at his desk. Tibbs begins by questioning Morgan, who was knocked out, about why the robbers would have blown up the gate when they could have made their escape without opening the gate. Assistant manager William Martin is also questioned, but has no idea why anyone would have killed Bishop, who has no obvious enemies. Upon returning to their office, the police learn that Bishop was shot with two guns, execution-style; that the robbers entered from outside a window five stories high; and that they had only four minutes after tripping the alarms to exit the building. Meanwhile, corporate executives Bob Alford and Zach Mills, the leaders of the drug syndicate that supplied Bishop with the heroin, speak to their colleagues in Istanbul and Paris. Using code, they inform them that the heroin has been stolen and Bishop killed. At home that night, Tibbs is bantering with his wife Valerie and children Andy and Ginny when he receives an anonymous phone call asking him to walk alone along a city street at a certain hour. Instructing Pecora to come after him in thirty minutes, Tibbs does as he is told and is soon ushered into an apartment where the robbers have gathered. Leader Juan Mendoza introduces Rev. Dave Thomas, Annie Sekido, Charlie Blossom, Stacy Baker and Joe Peralez, who admit they robbed the factory but insist that they did not murder Bishop. The group, each member of which has lost a loved one to drug addiction or overdose, wants to destroy “the organization.” When they ask for Tibbs’s help, pointing out that they deliberately blew up the gate in order to tip off the authorities, he refuses, stating that he cannot risk his career by banding with criminals without the knowledge of the police force. When he returns to Pecora, however, Tibbs says nothing about the group. That night, narcotics captain Grayson shoots himself, causing the men in the station to assume he was corrupt. After Bishop’s wife lies to the police that she drove her husband to the factory the night of his murder, Tibbs realizes that she is being pressured not to admit that he was kidnapped. He arranges to meet Dave, Annie and Juan on a ferry, where he reluctantly acknowledges that they are not the killers and agrees to work with them, as long as they do not make a move without his approval. Tibbs then re-questions Morgan, and when the guard refuses to admit that another car came in after the robbers broke in, Tibbs takes him in for further questioning. On way to the station, however, a car drives by and the passenger shoots Morgan, killing him before he can talk. Back at the station, Pecora wonders why Tibbs did not take him along to interrogate Morgan, but Tibbs deflects his questions and visits Morgan’s widow Gloria to question her. She reveals that Morgan was rich, suggesting that Bishop was paying him off. Later, two toughs beat up Joe and offer him half a million dollars to meet them at Washington Square with information about where the heroin is hidden. Joe tells Juan, who urges him to meet the thugs in order to glean more information about them. Meanwhile, Pecora suggests that Tibbs call in the narcotics squad to help with the case, but Tibbs manages to hold him off. Joe goes to the designated meeting place and, while Juan and Annie watch nervously, a car arrives and takes him away. He shows the thugs a sample of the heroin and asks for $5 million, and in response, they threaten his life and order him to meet them that night. Annie, fearful for her friends, informs Tibbs, who instructs her to convince them that they must include him in their dealings, for their own safety. They arrange for Annie to call the station and anonymously tip off Pecora to the meeting point that night. As she hangs up the phone, however, the thugs follow her, and despite her efforts to elude them, they trap her in her car. Meanwhile, Jessop, the head of the narcotics division, assigns four men to help Tibbs and Pecora that night. The undercover police tail Joe, but when no one shows up at the meeting place, Tibbs is excoriated for wasting their time. Soon, Tibbs hears that Annie’s dead body has been found, and meets the remaining five men to tell them that, because Annie was tortured to inform on them, they have been exposed and must flee. Tibbs and Pecora then question Martin again and, upon running through the complex alarm system with him, deduce that the murderers must have had an outside accomplice. Soon after, Tibbs learns from Dave that Joe’s apartment is being watched by the thugs, and Tibbs rushes there, arriving just as the thugs run over Joe with their car. Although Tibbs arrests one of the men, the severely injured Joe blames the policeman for failing to protect him. When Jessop arrives at the hospital to question Joe, he learns of Tibbs’s involvement, and soon Tibbs is called in to his superior, Capt. Stacy, and suspended for withholding information from the department. As Tibbs leaves, Jessop caustically informs him that Grayson killed himself not because he was corrupt but because he was dying of leukemia. Tibbs, unwilling to abandon the surviving vigilantes, asks his friend, the lawyer Sgt. Leo Chassman, for help in investigating Century. Chassman learns that the company has myriad “dummy” corporations as stockholders, and informs Tibbs about its complex financial workings. Meanwhile, Juan calls his friend Benjy, a small-time dealer, and offers to exchange the heroin for half a million dollars, on a crowded street. As Juan has hoped, Benjy arranges for the transfer with Alford and Mills, who arrive on the street to supervise the transaction. Just as Benjy and Juan swap bags, Charlie grabs the bag of heroin and runs off. While Tibbs’s men, whom Juan has informed about the meeting, arrest Benjy, the organization’s men chase Charlie into the unfinished subway system, followed by Tibbs. Together, Charlie and Tibbs shoot some of the thugs, and when the police arrive to finish the job, Tibbs runs off so they will not know he has been involved. He goes to Gloria’s house and there casually reveals that he knows, based on the fact that Chassman’s research has revealed that she is a major, wealthy stockholder in Century, who worked as a drug runner for the organization and facilitated Bishop’s murder by tripping the alarms for the killers. After letting Pecora into the house, Tibbs advises Gloria to identify her bosses before they kill her, then uncovers a stash of heroin hidden inside a cut of beef in her refrigerator. Trapped, Gloria admits that Alford and Mills were behind the murder. The two men are arrested, but as they are being transported to testify, a sniper shoots them both before they can talk. Realizing that the organization will continue its dirty dealings, the reinstated Tibbs accepts a ride home from Pecora. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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